An Inside Look: Northern Suburbs Crematorium

    I thought it was time for a follow up on my 'inside' look at Macquarie Park.  This time it will ne Northern Suburbs as it is next to Macquarie Park.

    Northern Suburbs Memorial Gardens, simply known as 'Northern Suburbs' to many in the industry is a very picturesque and historic place, opened in 1933.  It is one of the nicer places visually, while not as practical or modern as other crematoriums it does have lovely gardens and buildings.

    Northern Suburbs is owned and operated by InvoCare, who do own most of the industry but are a decent company.

The stolen statue.
    An interesting fact is of the missing statue.  In the middle of one of the large ponds is a stone block with four holes in it.  Here once sat a large bronze statue, which was stolen.  Nobody is completely sure when it was taken but they know it was in early November 2010.  So somebody stole a large bronze statue, which was bolted down and in the middle of a big pond and then nobody noticed it was gone for a few days.

    It should be noted that Northern Suburbs is very different to Macquarie Park Cemetery and Crematorium.  Yet many people confuse the two quite often as they use to share the same name and are within 5-10 minutes drive from each other.  So make sure you are going to the right place!

    The adress is; 199 Delhi Rd, North Ryde.  I do not know if you can put this address into a GPS so do NOT rely on a GPS or following the cortege to get here.  It is an easy location to look up so look it up.  The entrance is on a bend in a bushy area, but it isn't hard to miss so long as you keep an eye out. 

Getting there:
    The gate is on a bend surrounded by bush and right next to 'Alen Mathews' Funeral home.  This makes it easy to spot from either direction.  Once you see the bright green funeral home sights you know the gateway is there to.

    You are able to easily turn left or right off Delhi Rd into the crematorium.  While there are no lights to help you turn there are often large gaps in traffic.  Many are large enough to let several cars through at a time.  And due to the bend there is good vision of the road in both directions.

    Once you enter the gate KEEP LEFT.  People make this mistake all too often entering Northern Suburbs, confused by the new location and running late they drive in without thinking.  Even though there are big arrows on the ground people end up going towards the main buildings and driving up a one-way lane.  Next thing they come face to face with a hearse and the hearse is not going to back up.  So as you enter keep left and then follow the signs further up.

    Also do NOT enter the roadway going around the crematorium.  This road leads in a circle directly to the chapels, but it is for authorised cars only.  As in funeral cars or hire cars.  Simply put if you are unsure if you're allowed to drive here then you are not allowed.

    Remember the rule at Northern Suburbs; to get in keep left, to get out keep right!

Leaving Northern Suburbs:
    This is rather simple but can be rather confusing and I have seen people get lost or realise that they cannot go the way they originally planned.  So here is how to get out.

    If you are parked int he car park or out front of a chapel it is the same procedure.  Simply follow the roads until you see the large fountain between the North and East chapels (the fountain will be on your left).  Once you see this continue on but keep right and go down the hill.  Left will take you around the road to the chapels (for authorised people only) but right will take you out to the main gate.  It's so simple you will wonder how and why people have messed this up, but they have and it can be more confusing in person.  Especially with cars going everywhere.

    Remember the rule at Northern Suburbs; to get in keep left, to get out keep right!

    Once back at the main gate you will notice that you should not turn right onto Delhi Rd.  Some can do it, but due to the traffic and short visibility this is actually dangerous and can take a while.  Instead turn left, safer and faster.  Then continue along Delhi Rd and turn left into Julius Ave W, it is the second set of traffic lights along Delhi Rd.  You will come to a round about where you can do a U-turn and then go back to the lights which will let you do a right back onto Delhi Rd.

    There are four chapels at Northern Suburbs located and named by compass points, as in 'North Chapel', 'East Chapel' and so on.  The four chapels differ greatly in style and function, so one should think about the type of funeral when booking a chapel here.  All chapels have a hearing aid loop (as with just about every crematorium now).

    There is a large car park towards the front of the grounds.  To get here simply enter the gate, keep left and follow the road until you see the signs pointing to the car park.  The signs will direct you to the right at a fork, away from the main building but into the car park.  Because it is an odd circle you end up closer to the buildings that it appears.  If you need to drive closer to the chapels (because you are a hire car, funeral staff or driving someone who is 'unsteady') then continue towards the main building.

The Chapels:
    Most mourners will end up parking in the car park (as they should).  This is only a short and easy walk from the chapels.  However funeral cars or hire cars will and should drive right up to the chapels.  To do this turn left instead of right for the car park.  Continue straight towards the main building, then enter the circular road by keeping left and following the building itself.  This will take you around the circle and let you park at any chapel.  Note that you drive in an anti-clockwise direction around this circle.  The first chapel on the drive will be the North Chapel and the last will be the East Chapel.

    As the East Chapel is the last on a long and slow road you can chose to take a few short-cuts and make it your first stop.  There are two main options for this, the first is to turn right as though you were going tot he car park but follow the road which brings you right to the East Chapel.  The other option is faster but you will need to pass the chapel in the wrong direction then using the triangular traffic island do a u-turn to come back facing the right direction.

North Chapel:
    This is the second chapel people will see as they walk up to the main building.
Seats 100 in the main area and 30 upstairs, it also has a TV screen down at the front.  While they say it is a large screen it is 'tricky' to see clearly from the back.  There is also an electric piano at the front and an AudioVisual system at the back.
    There is wheelchair access through a side door.
Link to more information and a  floor plan.

East Chapel:
    This is the first chapel people see as the approach the main building.
Seats 70 people and says it has standing room for 100.  But in all honestly getting 100 people to stand in there would quite squishy.  There is a small TV at the front which is viewable but appears small from the back.  It is good for a nice slideshow but not suitable for a movie.  As with the other chapels there is an AudioVisual system at the back and electric piano at the front.
The East Chapel has been blessed as a Catholic chapel and can have crucifix's provided on request.  But every chapel at Northern Suburbs is suitable for any religious or non-religious ceremony.
    There is wheelchair access through a side door.
Link to more information and a floor plan.

South Chapel:
The South Chapel door from under the cover.
    This is reached by following the path around the building, located on the opposite side to the North Chapel.
Seats 80 and has standing room for 100. It has a decent TV at the front for slideshows and videos and an AudioVisual at the back.  And again there is an electric piano but also a marble table at the front.
Unlike the other three chapels this one has a cover outside the door for cars and people, which is a huge advantage in the rain or the heat.  This makes it arguably one of the best chapels and is certainly one of the preferred for undertakers.
    There is wheelchair access through a side door.
Link to more information and a floor plan.

West Chapel:
    This is at the back of the building, reached by walking around the path.
Seats 55 and has standing room for another 50.  It is perhaps the smallest of the chapels and this should be taken into account.  There is also an electric piano and AudioVisual system in this chapel.
    There is wheelchair access through a side door.
Link to more information and a floor plan.

Reception Center:
    InvoCare planned to open the reception center in 2011, but the date was pushed back to 2012.  So it should be open by now but I do not know for sure.  Nor do I know what it is like.  I do know it is located by the car park but away from the chapels.  There was talk that a shuttle service would be provided to people who needed it, but either way it is a decent walk from some chapels.

Main Office:
    The main office is located near the large fountain between the North and East chapels.  For undertakers and other funeral staff there is a special sliding window on the side of the building by the toilets.  Look for a little awning and a window, it is easy to spot.  This is where funeral staff take all the paperwork, let the crematorium know they have arrived, get help and so on.  Mourners on the other hand should enter the office through the door near this window and can talk with reception.

The Staff:
    The staff are InvoCare employees and as such most are quite cool, but a few are funny.  Generally the staff here are decent and helpful so long as you are polite.  A smile goes a long way at Northern Suburbs and if you stay on their good side (which isn't hard) they will usually make sure to give everyone a couple of lollies or mints.

    For mourners the staff are also quite nice and professional.  Be polite and do not hesitate to ask if you need help, try not to demand or ask too much but otherwise they are happy to help if they can.  If one needs assistance getting around Northern Suburbs, finding a name plate or anything else just go to reception in the main office and ask.

    If you want an all-in-one style service where the wake and committal are together I would recommend Macquarie Park.  The reception center and chapels are state of the art and modern.  And they are located almost next to each other, and there is a small fenced in playground within sight of the reception rooms.  Overall it is better integrated and offers more versatility.  However it is very modern, Northern Suburbs has a more historic feel and look to it.  It is a stylish and beautiful place with fountains and gardens everywhere.  Really it depends on what people desire and their budget as both are good locations and close to each other.

Useful Info & Links:

Phone: (02) 9887 2033

Cremation information.

Memorial Options.

Associated funeral homes - in other words other InvoCare owned funeral homes.


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